The Aero Squadron Lounge - a pictorial review

by brae  

Many images in this post can be clicked to view larger.  To see a list of posts showing details on how I made things or what materials I used, as well as more pictures, click this link.

On the property of the local aviation museum sits The Aero Squadron Lounge, a WWI themed lounge modeled after a French farmhouse ruin.  Outside is a replica 1917 Sopwith Camel aeroplane, and inside you will find a unique setting to enjoy a beverage and view the WWI and aviation memorabilia.  Climb the tower for an aerial view of the Sopwith Camel and picturesque grounds.  Stop in today and enjoy one of our signature cocktails: The Flying Ace, The Bombardier, The Tailgunner (limit two please) or The Barnstormer.  Please don't feed the hens.

This build was so much fun, but so challenging, too!  I made just about everything for this build myself, including the 1:32 scale Sopwith Camel, dogwood tree, flowers, hens, fireplace and furnishings.  The things I purchased include the glass, plastic and metal items as well as the display cabinet, shrubs and lighting.

As you can see, this is a 360° build, with the removable fireplace being the remaining component of the bombed out back wall.  This allowed me to include more inside while still maintaining a view of the inside.  It's a difficult build to photograph and is best seen in person where you can walk around and peer into all the openings.

Making things look blasted apart while still holding structural integrity was not easy.  :D

I learned so many new techniques and used a LOT of math.  :O

The Lounge was made using the base kit and the greenhouse addition.  Here's where the idea started.

I swapped the oatmeal container for a mailing tube found on Freecycle and altered the kit by adding two inches to the height, width and depth.   The mailing tube story is rather humorous.  I put an ad on Freecycle looking for a 5-8" diameter mailing tube at least 24" tall.  I had a reply within two hours and picked it up that evening.  You should have seen their faces as I stood in their foyer wide-eyed with a huge grin and actually said, "Hooray," in a tiny sing-songy voice.  Haaaaaaaa!!

The outer walls and the lower portion of the greenhouse addition are pink builders foam.  This stuff was awesome to work with.  All of the outer walls were scored with a brick pattern, even though I planned to cover the exterior with stucco and leave only a few patches bare.  The tower is covered with white styrofoam sheet also scored in a brick pattern.

I couldn't believe how realistic the stone looked after painting.

The front door was made from scrap wood to replace the clean laser cut door of the original.  The working hinges are from Olde Mountain Miniatures

This stone slab was made using white styrofoam, spackling and paint.  The gravel is Woodland Scenics Ballast left over from Baslow Ranch.

This was my first time landscaping in earnest.  I started with a sheet of builders foam for the base, and used a carving knife to slope the edges.  The dogwood tree has been detailed previously, and it had its own raised base.  The grass is Woodland Meadow Field Grass by Heki, from Scenery Express.  It's so realistic!  The mulch is from A Little More in Miniatures, and the gravel path is Woodland Scenics Ballast leftover from Baslow Ranch.  The shrubs and smaller trees are Squeeze Me trees from Model Builders Supply.

The dogwood tree has been detailed previously, and it had its own raised base created during the assembly phase.

I love the way it looks with the bench in front of the tree.

The rustic planter filled in the remaining area and helps disguise the front lawn seam, which is slightly visible from some angles.  The plants are detailed here and here.

The henhouse was inspired by one made by Terry Harville that I saw at the Bishop show.   If there's one thing I have, it's leftover scrap wood, especially from the Heritage build.  I've been throwing all my scraps and punched out pieces into a plastic bin that I can rummage through as projects come up.  The henhouse was made using only scrap items from this bin.

I used Greenleaf half scale speed shingles that I had left over from the Heritage gables for the roof.  The nests are made from raffia cut into small pieces and glued in place.

The breed of hens I've made are Faverolles, a French hen suggested by Teddi.  I have a standing hen not yet completed, but I will add her later.  :D  These are made from polymer clay.

The chicks are flocked using snipped emboidery floss to make soft down.

The eggs were made from clay, using several shades of pale brown.  Lyssa made the basket.  :]

Detail shot of the watercolor paintings from 1916, wartime, that Elga scanned and sent to me.

The tower spiral stairs were a challenge, but I love the way they turned out.

The most challenging light to wire was the tower light.

Even if I hadn't made the tower roof removable in the end, I wanted exposed rafters and holes in the roof.  That meant you would be able to see the wire, even if I cut a channel into the balsa beam and painted it.

I opted to hide the wire in plain sight with conduit made from 3/32" aluminum tubing from my local hobby shop.  I eliminated the chain on this light and made it a ceiling fixture.  The wire goes up through the beam, through the conduit and out the side of the tower.  The end wire runs between the tower and side wall, eventually to be covered with stucco.

To disguise the end of the wire inside, I used a round wooden bead.  I painted the conduit on the beam brown to match the wood.  I painted the conduit along the wall and the wooden bead warm white to make it blend in with the wall color.  I have seen conduit done like this in real life many times.  I added a metal doorbell from Sussex Crafts to act as a vintage light switch.  Now the illusion is complete.  The whole process is detailed in the tower construction post, part 3.  Here is the faux switch for the tower light.

The tower roof was my second major foray into math.  I found this forum thread on conical roof framing, which had exactly the reference photo I needed to help it click for me.

After the supports were formed, I added thin sheets of balsa, shown here after painting. The support system was one thing, but shingling a conical roof is another thing entirely.  I used the same Greenleaf speed shingles, but I cut and applied them one at a time.  With all the layers, the roof ended up being very stable, so I've left it removable.

The cone cap is just a piece of heavy paper painted to match...and the windsock is a glued tube of orange cotton held in place with a head pin.  Yes, it rotates, though it pretty much always falls back into the same place.  :D

I found these fantastic Scene Master spotlights on amazon.com and instantly knew they would be perfect for lighting up the plane.  They have a vintage industrial look about them that complements the plane and building.  They are labeled multi-scale, and I think they work wonderfully in my scene.  In the final layout, I used only one of the pair that were included in the package.  I aged it with brown and black acrylic to remove the plastic sheen.

The most challenging part of the build had to be the 1:32 scale Sopwith Camel, built from a plastic kit by Academy.

It's been a long time since I built a model car, and I've never built an airplane let alone one with rigging.  I love the way it turned out!

The shiny red nose turned out so well, I couldn't bring myself to age it or dirty it in any way.

The rest of the plane received a modest amount of wear and weathering.

The "wood" portions were easier to mimic than I thought they would be.  When I read that you were to first paint the base color and then paint on the wood grain, I thought, "Riiiiiiiiiiiight."  But, it works!  :D  I used a hand painted base coat of Testors Flat Light Tan followed by Testors Flat Military Brown, also hand painted and then wiped away with a paper towel.  Maybe it's not fine woodgrain, but it is remarkably convincing.

Nothing brings a miniature build together quite like lights, but wiring a structure always has challenges.  This build has its own particular challenges with removable pieces and exposed rafters.  I have a full post on the wiring here.

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For those of you in the U.S. who'd like to see one of these theme restaurants in real life, there are still a number of 94th Aero Squadron Restaurants in operation, namely in San Diego, Van Nuys, Miami and Columbus.  The one near me in Wheeling, Illinois has since closed, which is a real shame.  I spent a few birthdays there and even one New Year's Eve.  It was an interesting restaurant and lounge with good food and wonderful artifacts and planes.  Had it still been there, I would have taken some photos of my model in front of it.  :D

Presents!!!

by brae  

There is a Proxxon Scroll Saw in residence!  It barely fit under the tree.  :D  Elga already told me that parties and power tools do not mix (though I already knew this), so it will be set up and tested another night...minus the egg nog.  ;D

My parents gave me two Bespaq honeymoon cottage chairs.  Mom said the table is on backorder, though I am worried it might be discontinued.  :\

I also received some new dinnerware: Rachael Ray Little Hoot salad plates, soup bowls and mugs.  So cute!  My former dinnerware that these replace will make its way to the local goodwill store.

Of course, I treated myself to a couple of fun things while I was shopping for presents to give to others.  :D  I bought two fun ceramic items from Anthropologie: a 6-egg tray and a berry basket.  I like hard boiled eggs, and this is the perfect way to store them in the refrigerator.

The berry basket can hold onions, tomatoes and/or avocados until I use them.  The crabby pitcher and jar are from a place I used to work many years ago.

I also received gift cards, clothing and other wonderful gifts from friends and family at the various parties I attended this extended holiday weekend.  Presents are always nice, of course, but the time spent with loved ones was the best part.  :D  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Happy Holidays 2012

by brae  

I set up a quick living room scene since the Christmas tree I decorated for the Newport is too tall for the Heritage parlor.  :O  I'll have to make grandma a tree of her own next year.

The couch, chair and coffee table are Bespaq, and I have a third chair to match.  The afghan is by Mary of Roslyn Treasures.  The curtains are a Marimekko design printed on regular paper, folded and tacked to the sides of the window.  The rug is from Dales Dreams.  The Shaker step stool was made from a kit by Miniature Wood Creations.  The wood is so nice I just sealed it as is with satin varnish.

The red paper bag and box with tissue on the couch are by Patrizia Santi (the shoes are at Baxter Pointe Villa).  The kitting, plant and table in the corner were purchased.  I made the bag of wrapping paper rolls.

The mini cookies on the dresser are from the swap arranged by Gail at Dolly's Gallery Miniatures.  Gail made glitter stars and trees, and Denise made gingerbread men.   The plates are from A Lavender Dilly, and the doily is from Stewart Dollhouse Creations.  The mouse is from a box of miniatures a group of us send around as an ongoing swap, and I made the topiary and cards.  The snowman bead was purchased some time ago.  I bought the frame and printed the owl drawing by Dürer to fit.  The dresser is a House of Miniatures kit made in a more modern finish.

I made all of the wrapped gifts except for the red one with the white bow.  That came from the traveling swap box as well.  :]

The wreath I bought a couple of years ago.

The lovely Caterina hosted her annual Christmas Swap this year, and my gifts came from M Carmen.  She sent me a lovely assortment of holiday minis, starting with a festive centerpiece with frosted pine cones.  It's very Pottery Barn.  The tea pot is by Jason Feltrope, and the tray is from artbase on etsy.  I made the cookies in the tin.

M Carmen also made a wreath from tiny pages of music paper with Santa in the middle.  Very vintage!

The postal service was a little rough on the remaining box of minis she included, so I am not sure how she meant for it to be originally.  There's a wooden box with a few minis glued in place: garland, a Santa hat, more of those adorable tiny pinecones.  Running around loose in the box were ornaments, ribbon, Christmas plaques, rolled paper, cards, candy canes and pinecones.  It's the perfect box for grandma's attic in the Heritage.  :D  And, I don't mind in the least that the contents escaped the box; I'll be able to use them displayed in the box and to decorate besides!  Thank you so much, M Carmen! 

As with my Jasper in real life, Cora is after the gift wrap!  :O

The floral painting is by Elga's daughter, Naomi.  It's so well done; the photos don't do it justice.

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year!  Thank you for all the support and friendship!

Curtain options and furniture painting

by brae  

The swinging windows in the Heritage bedroom are wonderful architectural details, and I don't have any plans to cover them up.  However, grandma needs a little privacy and options in case she'd like to nap during a bright, sunny day.  :D  I did some scouting around on the internet and found two great options for adding curtains to a Palladian window, similar to the arches in the Heritage.

First, you can add curtains to only the swinging window portion.  The arches are high enough that no one would be able to see in even if they remain uncovered.  I would use a simple white fabric for this option.


image from curtains.interiordezine.com

The other option is floor to ceiling curtains that sit outside of the entire window frame.  These would mask the entire window when pulled closed.  I would use a muted grey fabric so it wouldn't interfere with the light colored furnishings.


image from Camille Moore

Lyssa and I are leaning toward the first option of curtains only for the swinging window.  :]

The other task on my agenda is finishing the bedroom furnishings.  For the nightstands, I'm thinking a semi circular pattern of flowers on the tops, some coordinating flourishes on the sides and front drawer, and a few details on the legs.  Here they are painted Vintage White by Folk Art.

Karin, a member on the GL forum, has been creating tiny floral paintings and embellishments in her dollhouses using the instructive books by Donna Dewberry.  I checked out a bunch of these from the library, and they are full of wonderful designs with straightforward designs.  Here's the design I've chosen from Donna's books.  She also has instructions for painting birds, butterflies, dragonflies and bees.

Here's an example of a painted side table showing some detailing on the legs.


image from The Perfect Decor

For the dresser, I like the idea of painting the facade as a whole.  I'll give it a slight aging wash first and then paint vines and birds.  Here it is with its Vintage White base coat.

Here is an example from Patina: the Aria Chest.

For the Bespaq bed, the simple change from mahogany...

To satin almond was a world of change.

I found this lovely example from Houzz showing a painted ivory bed.

I don't plan to add any painted detailing since there will be so much going on in the room besides, but Lyssa and I thought a little wear would be appropriate.  Here's a fantastic example from European Paint Finishes.

Detail of the wear patterns...

I'll end up somewhere in between these two examples.  :]

Wiring...a necessary task

by brae  

I've gotten far enough into the build that I need to start addressing the wires that will eventually be housed in the chimney.  I have some wires lengthened and marked with masking tape so I know what is what.

Others are just hanging around, too short, and I need to plug them in to see what happens.  Haaaaa!  What a mess....

I decided to take some time tonight and remedy that issue.  All the wires will come down the wall behind the chimney and that will require a track to the back of the baseboard.  I cut the landscaping foam but kept the piece to later plug the channel over the wires.

I use the tiny clear, pre-cut shrink tubes by Cir-Kit when when I need to keep the wire joins thin, usually within a channel inside the walls or floor boards of the building itself.

For the wires that join inside the chimney, the thickness of the wire joins doesn't matter since they will be loose in the flue so I use shrink tubing from Evan Designs instead.  This is a length of black tubing you cut yourself.

The result is comparable to the clear tubes just slightly thicker.  I use a small lighter to shrink the tubing, putting the flame just close enough.

If you get the flame too close, you can use liquid electrical tape.  This won't hold wires together like a shrink tube, but it replaces any lost insulation.

I decided to use a 3V flickering orange LED for the parlor fireplace, the same method used for the jack-o'-lantern on the front porch.  I cut a channel in the landscaping foam and then drilled a hole into the cellar doors.

I wired the LED to a 3V battery adapter with a switch.

It's a softer, more realistic light than the static red bulb.  I'll have to make a movie of the flickering.  I love how spooky the fireplace looks in low light.

I taped the wires in place here and there to keep them tidy.  Much better.

Once the remaining wires are in place, I'll finish the landscaping and then add the chimney.

I even added the plugs at the ends.   I use a 12-switch power strip, and yes, there are more than 12 lights to be plugged in at any given time.  My transformer can definitely handle them all on at once, but I am more of a use-them-when-you-need-them type when it comes to lighting anyway.  I could certainly add another power strip, but I don't.  :D  And, yes, I know it's already a bit of an octopus...ah, well, it works for me.

Having the chimney hiding the wires makes the Heritage completion seem like a solid reality.  It won't be long now!

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